26 Mar 2022
Dialogue Fiji organized an Inter-University Debate on Elections at the Fiji National University’s Nasinu Campus on 26 March 2022. This was the second round of the “University Debate on Elections” series.
The debate series is being organised as part of the "Building Public Confidence in Elections in Fiji through Civil Society Action" project that is funded by UKAID and is being co-implemented with International IDEA.
Four teams, two each from the Fiji National University and the University of Fiji, took part in this round of the debate series. The participating teams had students from different disciplines of study at the two universities, including Applied Social Science, Law and Medicine.
There were three contests held on the day. The first debate was on the topic “An electoral gender quota is desirable in Fiji” which was won by UniFiji Team 1 which took a negative stance on the topic. The second contest was on the topic “A single national constituency is good for Fiji” which was won by FNU Team 2 which took a negative stand on the debate resolution. This set the stage for the final of the second round which was on the topic “Social media is good for elections and democracy”. The final was won by UniFiji Team 1 which argued from the affirmative side.
The contests were judges by a panel consisting of Ms Mele Rakai, a legal practitioner at Sherani & Company, Mr, Jovilisi Liganivai, a legal practitioner at Munro Leys Lawyers and Ms Miriam Naco, also a legal practitioner at Parshotam & Company.
Speaking during the opening session of the event, the DF Executive Director, Mr Nilesh Lal elaborated on the importance of such debate competitions in creating awareness on democratic processes such as elections amongst the youths of Fiji.
“One of the things that we have observed in Fiji is that there’s a lot of enthusiasm about elections and there is a relatively high voter turnout but the issue of youth apathy relating to national politics is a real issue. Some of the activities that we are implementing under this project are geared towards addressing this issue. Through this debate series, we are encouraging tertiary students in Fiji to research on, critically analyze and then eventually debate on various aspects of electoral system and processes in Fiji, which creates discourse on elections within tertiary student communities.”
The Executive Director also thanked UKAid for their timely funding which has enabled DF to increase awareness and understanding of electoral processes in Fiji, as Fiji gears up for its third national elections under a new electoral framework.
Adarsh Kumar, who represented UniFiji in the competition said the competition has enhanced his knowledge of the electoral system.
“I feel that this debate competition gave an opportunity to learn about things that many people don’t know about. Being medical students, we are not greatly exposed to such issues in our academic genre, however, I enjoyed researching and analyzing the topics relating to elections, and I would definitely say that it’s really interesting to know about our country’s electoral system, both as a student and a citizen,” said Kumar.
A debater from FNU, Grace Young thanked the organizers for holding the debate, which has benefitted her as a student studying applied social sciences.
“I personally resonated with our side of arguments mainly because I am a Social Science student and we have learnt and researched about such issues at the university. Thus, the debate competition has not only increased my understanding about the topics we cover in courses but also improved my debating skills,” said Young.
The eventual winners of the second round, the UniFiji Team 1 received $600 alongside the winner’s trophy whilst the runner up, FNU Team 2, received a prize money of $300 together with a trophy. The two participating teams which lost in the initial contests, received consolation prizes of $150 each, for their efforts and participation.
The finals of the Inter-University Debate Series will be held on 9th April, and will be a battle of the winning teams from the University of the South Pacific, the Fiji National University and the University of Fiji.